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GM cuts jobs in response to present costs, future innovation

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GM cuts jobs in response to present costs future innovation

DETROIT (AP) — Even though unemployment is low, the economy is growing and U.S. auto sales are near historic highs, General Motors is cutting thousands of jobs in a major restructuring aimed at generating cash to spend on innovation.

It’s the new reality for automakers that are faced with the present cost of designing gas-powered cars and trucks that appeal to buyers now while at the same time preparing for a future world of electric and autonomous vehicles.

GM announced Monday that it will cut as many as 14,000 workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure as it abandons many of its car models and restructures to focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles.

CEO Mary Barra said as cars and trucks become more complex, GM will need more computer coders but fewer engineers who work on internal combustion engines.

“The vehicle has become much more software-oriented” with millions of lines of code, she said. “We still need many technical resources in the company.”

The reductions could amount to as much as 8 percent of GM’s global workforce of 180,000 employees.

The restructuring also reflects changing North American auto markets as manufacturers continue to shift away from cars toward SUVs and trucks. In October, almost 65 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. were trucks or SUVs. That figure was about 50 percent cars just five years ago.

GM is shedding cars largely because it doesn’t make money on them, Citi analyst Itay Michaeli wrote in a note to investors.

“We estimate sedans operate at a significant loss, hence the need for classic restructuring,” he wrote.

The reduction includes about 8,000 white-collar employees, or 15 percent of GM’s North American white-collar workforce. Some will take buyouts while others will be laid off.

At the factories, around 3,300 blue-collar workers could lose jobs in the U.S. and another 2,600 in Canada, but some U.S. workers could transfer to truck or SUV factories that are increasing production. The cuts mark GM’s first major downsizing since shedding thousands of jobs in the Great Recession.

The company also said it will stop operating two additional factories outside North America by the end of next year.

The move to make GM get leaner before the next downturn likely will be followed by Ford Motor Co., which also has struggled to keep one foot in the present and another in an ambiguous future of new mobility. Ford has been slower to react, but says it will lay off an unspecified number of white-collar workers as it exits much of the car market in favor of trucks and SUVs, some of them powered by batteries.

The GM layoffs come amid the backdrop of a trade wars between the U.S., China and Europe that likely will lead to higher prices for imported vehicles and those exported from the U.S. Barra said the company faces challenges from tariffs but she did not directly link the layoffs to them.

GM doesn’t foresee an economic downturn and is making the cuts “to get in front of it while the company is strong and while the economy is strong,” Barra told reporters.

Factories that could be closed include assembly plants in Detroit and Oshawa, Ontario, and Lordstown, Ohio, as well as transmission plants in Warren, Michigan, and near Baltimore.

The announcement worried GM workers who could lose their jobs.

“I don’t know how I’m going to feed my family,” Matt Smith, a worker at the Ontario factory, said Monday outside the plant’s south gate, where workers blocked trucks from entering or leaving. “It’s hard. It’s horrible.” Smith’s wife also works at the plant. The couple has an 11-month-old at home.

Workers at the Ontario plant walked off the job Monday but were expected to return Tuesday.

After the morning announcement, Barra headed for Washington to speak with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow in what was described as a previously scheduled meeting.

President Donald Trump, who has made bringing back auto jobs a big part of his appeal to Ohio and other Great Lakes states that are crucial to his re-election, said his administration and lawmakers are exerting “a lot of pressure” on GM.

Trump said he was being tough on Barra, telling the company that the U.S. has done a lot for GM and that if its cars aren’t selling, the company needs to produce ones that will.

At a rally near GM’s Lordstown, Ohio, plant last summer, Trump told people not to sell their homes because the jobs are “all coming back.”

Most of the factories to be affected by GM’s restructuring build cars that will not be sold in the U.S. after next year. They could close or they could get different vehicles to build. Their futures will be part of contract talks with the United Auto Workers union next year.

The Detroit-based union has already condemned GM’s actions and threatened to fight them “through every legal, contractual and collective bargaining avenue open to our membership.”

Bobbi Marsh, who has worked assembling the Chevrolet Cruze compact car at the Ohio plant since 2008, said she can’t understand why the factory might close given the strong economy.

“I can’t believe our president would allow this to happen,” she said Monday. Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown said the move will be disastrous for the region around Youngstown, Ohio, east of Cleveland, where GM is one of the area’s few remaining industrial anchors.

“GM received record tax breaks as a result of the GOP’s tax bill last year, and has eliminated jobs instead of using that tax windfall to invest in American workers,” he said in a statement.

GM, the nation’s largest automaker, will stop producing cars and transmissions at the plants through 2019. In all, six car models were scrapped, leaving the company with nine remaining car models for its four brands, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC.

Among the cars that won’t be made after next year is the Chevrolet Volt rechargeable gas-electric hybrid. When introduced a decade ago, the Volt was meant to be a bridge to fully electric cars, the company said. It has a small battery that can take it about 50 miles, then it switches to a small gasoline engine.

But since it was introduced, battery technology has improved dramatically, GM said. Now the full-electric Chevrolet Bolt can go up to 238 miles on a single charge.

The United Auto Workers promised to fight any plant closures and criticized GM for cutting U.S. jobs while building full-size pickups in Mexico. It also recently announced that a new Chevrolet Blazer SUV will be built there. Also, GM imports the Buick Envision midsize SUV from China.

___

Associated Press writers Rob Gillies in Toronto, John Seewer in Toledo, Ohio, and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

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Economy

The CFPB must protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices

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The CFPB must protect consumers from abusive debt collection practices

Washington, D.C. – Dennis M. Kelleher, President and CEO of Better Markets, issued the following statement with the filing of a comment letter on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (“CFPB’s”) proposed rules implementing the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act:

“Almost all Americans pay their debts and most of those who don’t are facing circumstances beyond their control like unemployment, a medical calamity, and other usually tragic occurrences. Congress enacted the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”) to protect those vulnerable Americans from shocking, egregious, and abusive practices by the debt collection industry: calling homes repeatedly day and night; calling employers to get people fired; calling friends, neighbors, and relatives to embarrass people; and generally harassing people nonstop to boost their profits. The list of horror stories is long and revolting.

“The CFPB is now charged with implementing and enforcing the FDCPA and it must be guided by Congress’s clear and unequivocal objective to protect consumers not the debt collection industry. It must strongly and clearly regulate a business model that is embedded with incentives to pursue debtors ruthlessly using abusive tactics.

“The CFPB has proposed a rule to implement the provisions of the FDCPA. While it has a few modest consumer protections in it, the proposal also opens too many loopholes and ambiguities that will enable debt collectors to once again engage in too many near-abusive or outright abusive practices. For example, as we detailed in our comment letter, the proposal allows too many communications with debtors, essentially amounting to legalized harassment, and it would create an escape hatch from liability when debt collectors file lawsuits to collect on debts that are actually time-barred under the law.

“The CFPB must finalize a rule consistent with the letter and spirit of the FDCPA, which means it must put consumer interests over debt collectors and meaningfully constrain their impulse to engage in abusive but highly profitable practices.”

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Better Markets is a non-profit, non-partisan, and independent organization founded in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to promote the public interest in the financial markets, support the financial reform of Wall Street and make our financial system work for all Americans again. Better Markets works with allies – including many in finance – to promote pro-market, pro-business and pro-growth policies that help build a stronger, safer financial system that protects and promotes Americans’ jobs, savings, retirements and more. To learn more, visit www.bettermarkets.com.

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Democrats

‘Lite’ versions of Medicare-for-All are no better – and possibly worse – than the real thing

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Lite versions of Medicare-for-All are no better - and possibly worse - than the real thing

How do Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Pete Buttigieg, and other Democratic candidates plan on sinking Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders? By highlighting how their radical Medicare-for-All proposals are several steps too far to the left for America and by offering “lighter” versions of their semi-popular healthcare plans. But there’s a problem with their proposals. All of them will lead to the same conclusion – single-payer healthcare – and all of them may actually be more damaging to the economy along the way.

This is saying a lot since the $32 trillion Medicare-for-All is an absolute existential threat to the United States economy. How could these lighter versions be worse?

Before we answer that, let’s look at what would happen if Buttigieg’s Medicare-for-All-Who-Wants-It, Biden’s Obamacare 2.0, or Harris’s Medicare-for-All plus private supplements ever become law in America. They all come at it from different angles, but what they’re describing is a public option for health insurance that would be taxpayer-funded and remove the out-of-pocket expenses from those who choose to take it instead of a private healthcare plan. This sounds reasonable to many Americans who want health insurance available to everyone, even those who cannot afford it, but who do not want to lose their own health insurance.

But what nobody’s mentioning is that the holes in a public option create problems for everyone, including:

  • Dichotomous healthcare services. There will be “good” healthcare offered to those with private insurance and “bad” healthcare offered to those taking the public option. We see this in action with the VA, which was intended to offer superior services to veterans. But the opposite has been proven to be the case. When government injects itself as an option against the private market, invariably the solutions they present are unambiguously inferior to the private variations. Americans will not be told of this dichotomy. Instead, they will find out when it’s too late that the healthcare they’re receiving is horrible compared to what they would have received under the private market option.
  • Increased costs across the board. What does a public option mean for the private market? Fewer customers. Fewer businesses enticing employees with health insurance benefits. Fewer healthy people paying for healthcare while higher-cost participants make private insurance more expensive for everyone. As for those on the public option, their acceptance of taxpayer-funded health insurance will, of course, drive up taxes for nearly everyone, including the middle class that nobody seems to want to admit will get hit with these taxes.
  • An eventual shift towards single-payerAs private health insurance becomes less lucrative and eventually becomes a money-loser, companies will start pulling out. We already saw this without the public option in Obamacare. Throw in a public option and it eventually becomes cost-prohibitive to offer anything other than supplemental insurance for uncovered procedures such as cosmetic surgery. The public option will become single payer by default within 3-5 years after it’s launched.

Nobody outside of the health insurance industry likes the health insurance industry, but over a hundred million Americans rely on this industry to keep themselves and their families from paying the extremely high costs for medical care. The combination of health insurance driving medical expenses and a government driving the health insurance industry has resulted in diapers costing $20 each after birth. They know most American will not care about the details as long as they’re not paying for it out of pocket, so they can encourage hospitals and doctors to charge outrageous rates. This all changes for the worst once single-payer is in place.

Back to the original premise – these “lighter” options could actually be worse for America than full-blown and immediate Medicare-for-All. With the latter, everything is upfront. They will tax us at extremely high rates to pay for their pet project. It will be horrible. But it will be understood from the beginning. With the half-measures proposed by the “moderates” in the group, the way it all pans out will be in a constant state of radical evolution. Prices will fluctuate so rapidly that changes will need to be made on the fly. It’s like inserting a knife into our backs slowly instead of just plunging it right in. The constant tearing of tissues over time may make us bleed out faster than if they just stabbed us quickly.

The various public option proposals are all single-payer-in-training. They will invariably become Medicare-for-All because private insurance will die a slow death as a result. Meanwhile, our healthcare quality and economy will die much more rapidly.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

American Conservative Movement

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Democrats

How much longer will Elizabeth Warren dodge the middle-class tax increase question?

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How much longer will Elizabeth Warren dodge the middle-class tax increase question

Senator Elizabeth Warren refuses to acknowledge that her Medicare-for-All plan will require a middle-class tax increase. She implies it in her answer to the question by focusing on “costs will go down,” meaning people will pay less in healthcare expenses that, in her view, should compensate for the tax increases. But she absolutely, positively refuses to admit that taxes will go up, dodging the question clumsily every time she’s asked.

It’s starting to get uncomfortable. Even left-wing entertainer Stephen Colbert pressed her on the issue. He offered her a new way of pushing the message forward, equating the taxes we’d pay for her healthcare plan to the taxes we pay for public education. Even with the friendly host, Warren refused to admit her plan would require a middle-class tax cut. Unfortunately, this bodes ill for all American taxpayers as this refusal to say the words means it’s likely much worse than we can possibly imagine.

Watch her stumble through to not answer the question:

What is she hiding? She knows her plan requires middle-class tax increases and likely a downward extension in the tax bracket that will mean lower-income Americans who currently do not pay taxes will be forced to. But her focus has always been on making “rich corporations and wealthy individuals” pay for it. This message works because it creates an “us versus them” mentality within her base.

What Warren knows is that many in her base are not being crushed under the weight of medical expenses. She knows all of them will see their taxes go up, and unless they’re currently paying a ton out of pocket for their healthcare, their overall “costs” will not go down, as she promises. The burden of high medical costs is not as mainstream as she claims, which is why she refuses to acknowledge taxes will rise dramatically under her plan. She wants them to be focused on “free” medical care even if the “costs” for many if not most of her supporters will actually rise.

When a politician refuses to directly answer questions about their premier policy proposal, be afraid. Bernie Sanders might be a mess, but at least he’s honest about taxes rising across the board. Warren is not being honest at all.

We are currently forming the American Conservative Movement. If you are interested in learning more, we will be sending out information in a few weeks.

American Conservative Movement

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